Legend has it that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks rescued Rudy Giuliani from the political wilderness to which he’d been condemned after his public dissing of the mother of his children and his cruel treatment of Patrick Dorismond, the victim of a police killing. In fact, Giuliani had a 51 percent approval rating by July 2001. The point is, mayors can recover from disaster, even when a media narrative says they cannot.
Mayor de Blasio has entered his sixth year of office with nothing like the kind of baggage Rudy took into his final months, but with his own hefty luggage to haul. Last year saw the NYCHA crisis erupt fully, the Renewal schools program fizzle, a newly independent City Council assert itself, and a corruption trial continue to generate terrible headlines about the mayor’s relationships with donors. Just last week, the mayor was booed over his slow implementation of the Fair Fares program.
This week, however, is a different story, as Daily News City Hall bureau chief Jillian Jorgensen pointed out on Wednesday’s Max & Murphy show: One day the mayor was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to unveil his plan to extend health coverage to up to 600,000 New Yorkers, including 300,000 undocumented immigrants, and the next day he was in the Washington Post pitching a plan to mandate paid vacation time at city workplaces.
All that comes ahead of Thursday’s state of the city speech, where the mayor over the past two years has trotted out an uninspiring set of policy ideas. It’s possible this year’s address will offer even more big ticket items.
Jorgensen says the mayor’s people reject the idea that last year was de Blasio’s annus horribilis or that the administration wasn’t doing important work in 2017 or 2018, but she notes that “talk had begun of the mayor as a lame duck early on. … People were already starting to look at 2021, believe it or not.”
The two national appearances in as many days naturally “raises questions about whether the mayor is considering a presidential run,” Jorgensen says. At the very least, she adds, “I think the mayor really is a policy and politics wonk and he thinks he has something to contribute to a national conversation.”
Below, hear Ben Max and my talk with Jorgensen, or the full show (where we also spoke with public advocate candidate Eric Ulrich, Councilmember of Queens).